Is interleukin-6 receptor blockade (tocilizumab) beneficial or detrimental to pig-to-baboon organ xenotransplantation?

Academic Article


  • © 2019 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons The interleukin (IL)-6/IL-6 receptor-α (IL-6Rα)/signal transduction and activation of the transcription 3 (STAT3) pathway plays an important role in inflammation. Anti-human IL-6Rα blockade by tocilizumab (TCZ) has been used in pig-to-baboon organ xenotransplant models, but whether it is beneficial remains uncertain. After xenotransplant, there were significant increases in both baboon and pig IL-6 in the baboon serum, especially in baboons that received TCZ before xenotransplant. In vitro observations demonstrated that human, baboon, and pig IL-6 can activate the IL-6/IL-6Rα/STAT3 pathway in human, baboon, and pig cells, respectively. Activation of the IL-6/IL-6Rα/STAT3 pathway was blocked by TCZ in human and baboon cells but not in pig cells (ie, pig IL-6R). Siltuximab (human IL-6 inhibitor) bound to both human and baboon, but not pig, IL-6 and suppressed activation of the IL-6/IL-6Rα/STAT3 pathway. These results indicate that TCZ and siltuximab do not cross-react with pig IL-6R and pig IL-6, respectively. Rapamycin partially inhibited human, baboon, and pig IL-6/IL-6Rα/STAT3 pathways and suppressed inflammatory gene expression. TCZ treatment increased serum IL-6 because it could no longer bind to baboon IL-6Rα. We suggest that increased serum IL-6 may be detrimental to the pig xenograft because it is likely to bind to pig IL-6R, resulting in activation of pig cells.
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    Author List

  • Zhang G; Iwase H; Wang L; Yamamoto T; Jagdale A; Ayares D; Li Y; Cooper DKC; Hara H
  • Start Page

  • 999
  • End Page

  • 1013
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 4